Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

vitie, for very choler and disdain, he bit his tong in twaine, within his mouth : notwithstanding, he died not thereof, but lived untill he came in Englande, and then he died of colde, which he had laken at sea.

STEEVENS. "Nor scrape trenchering."-Act III. Sc. 1. In our author's time, trenchers were in general use, and male domes. tics were employed in cleansing them. “I have helped (says Lyly, in his History of his Life and Times, 1620,) to carry eighteen tubs of water in one morning; all manner of drudgery I willingly performed; scrapetrenchers," &c.—MALONE.

He were a brave monster indeed, if they were sel in his tail."-Act III. Sc. 2.

Probably in allusion to Stowe. It seems in the year 1574 a whale was thrown ashore near Ramsgate, "a monslrous fish, but not so monstrous as some reported, for his eyes were in his head, and not in his backe."

This is the tune of our catch, played by the picture of Nobody." —Act

III. Sc. 2. A ridiculous figure, sometimes painted on signs. Westward for Smelts, a book which our poet seems to have read, was printed for John Trundle, in Barbican, at the sign of the No-body; or the allusion may be to the print of No-body, as prefixed to the anonymous comedy of No-body and Some-body, without date, but printed before the year 1600.- MALONE.

One tree, the phenix' throne.”—Act III. Sc. 3. In Holland's Pliny, the following passage occurs: " I myselfe verily have heard straunge things of this kind of tree; and, namely, in regard of the bird Phænix, which is supposed to have taken that name of this Date Tree; for it was assured unto me, that the said bird died with that tree, and revived of itselfe as the tree sprung again."

Mountaineers,
Dew-lapp'd like bulls, whose throats had hanging at them

Wallets of flesh?"-Act III. Sc. 3. Whoever is curious to know the particulars relative to these mountaineers, may consult Maundeville's Travels, printed in 1503: but it is yet a known truth, that the inhabitants of the Alps have been long accus tomed to such excrescences or tumours.-STEEVENS.

Each putter-out of one for five.”—Act III. Sc. 3. The custom here alluded to was as follows:— It was a practice of those who engaged in long and hazardous expeditions, to place out a sum of money, on condition of receiving great interest for it at their return home. So in Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour :-" ) do intend this year of jubilee coming on, to travel; and (because I will not altogether go upon expence) I am determined to put some five thousand pound, to be paid me five for one, upon the return of my wife, myself, and my dog, from the Turk’s court, in Constantinople.”

Like poison, given to work a great time after."—Act III. Sc. 3. The natives of Africa were supposed to be possessed of the secret how to temper poisons with such art, as not to operate till several years after they were administered. Italian travellers relate similar effects of the aqua tofana, a subtle, colourless and tasteless poison, which ladies carry about them, and have at their toilets, among their perfumed waters, for the purpose of administering in the drink of faithless lovers. In the chapel at Arundel, is the effigy of a nobleman of the Howard family, who, having incurred the jealousy of an Italian lady during his travels, was poisoned in this manner, and died after lingering many years. The effigy represents him nearly naked, his bones scarcely covered by his skin, and presenting altogether a most deplorable spectacle.

And all be turn'd lo barnacles, or to apes.”— Act IV. Sc. 1. Caliban's barnacle is the clakis or tree-goose. Collins very simply tells us, that the barnacle which grows on ships was meant; and quotes the following passage to support his opinion :- :-" There are, in the north parts of Scotland, certaine trees, whereon do grow shell-fishes, which, falling in the water, do become fowls, whom we call barnakles; in the north of England, brant-geese ; and in Lancashire, tree-geese.

Some subtilties o' the isle."-Act V. Sc. 1. This is a phrase adopted from ancient cookery and confectionary. When a dish was so contrived as to appear unlike what it really was, they called it a subtilty. Dragons, castles, trees, &c., made out of sugar, had the like denomination.-STEEVENS.

TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.

Nay, give me not the boots."-Act I. Sc. 1. The boot was an instrument of torture used only in Scotland. Bishop Burnet mentions one Maccael, a preacher, who being suspected of treason, underwent the punishment so late as 1666. “ He was put to the torture, which, in Scotland, they call the boots; for they put a pair of iron boots close on the leg, and drive wedges between these and the leg. The common torture was only to drive these on the calf of the leg, but I have been told they were sometimes driven upon the shin bone.”—REED.

A laced mutton."— Act I, Sc. 1. A laced multon was, in our author's time, so usual a term for a courtezan, that a street in Clerkenwell much frequented by prostitutes, was called Mutton Lane.-MALONE.

I see you have a month's mind to them."—Act I. Sc. 2. A month's mind was an anniversary in times of popery; or a less solemnity directed by will. There was also a year's mind, and a week's mind. So in Strype's Memorials, “ July, 1556, was the month's mind of Sir William Saxton, who died the last month, his hearse burning with wax, and the morrow mass celebrated, and a sermon preached.”—Grey.

“ Sir Valentine and servant."— Act II. Sc. 1. Here Silvia calls her lover, servant, and again below, her gentle servant. This was the language of ladies to their lovers when Shakspeare wrote.-HAWKINS.

VOL. I. -46

A waren image 'gainst a fire.”—Act II. Sc. 4. Alluding to the figures made by witches, as representatives of those whom they designed to torment or destroy. King James ascribes these images to the devil, in his Treatise of Dæmonologie: “To some others at these times he teacheth how to make pictures of waxe or claye, that by the roasting thereof, the persons that they bear the name of may be continually melted, and dried away by continual sicknesse."-WESTON.

With a cod-piece.”—Act II. Sc. 7. Whoever wishes to be informed respecting this particular relative to dress, may consult Buliver's Artificial Changeling. It is mentioned, too, in Tyro's Roaring Megge, 1598:

“ Tyro's round breeches have a cliffe behind,

And that same perking longitude before;

Which, for a pin-case, antique plowmen wore.” Ocular instruction may be had from the armour shown as John of Gaunt's, in the Tower of London. The custom of sticking pins in this ostentatious piece of indecency was continued by the Tower-wardens, till forbidden by authority.-STEEVENS.

· Saint Nicholas be thy speed!"-Act III. Sc. 1. That this saint presided over young scholars, may be gathered from Knight's Life of Dean Collett; for, by the statutes of Paul's School there inserted, the children are required to attend divine service at the cathedral on his anniversary. The reason, probably, was, that the legend of this saint makes him to have been a bishop, while he was a boy.

HAWKINS The cover of the salt hides the salt."—Act III. Sc. 1. The ancient English salt-cellar was very different from the modern, being a large piece of plate, generally much ornamented, with a cover to keep the salt clean.

Upon whose grave thou vou’dst pure chastity.”—Act IV. Sc. 3. It was common in former ages for widowers and widows to make vows of chastity, in honour of their deceased wives or husbands. In Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire, there is the form of a commission by the bishop of the diocese for taking a vow of chastity by a widow. It seems that, besides observing the vow, the widow was for life to wear a veil, and a mourning habit. The same distinction we may suppose to have been made in respect of male votarists.-STEEVENS.

But since she did neglect her looking-glass,

And threw her sun-expelling mask away."— Act IV. Sc. 4. “When they use to ride abroad, they have masks or vizors, made of velvet, wherewith they cover all their faces, having holes made in them against their eyes, whereout they look; so that if a man that knew not their guise before, should chance to meet one of them, he would think he met a monster or a devil, for face he can shew (see) none, but two broad holes against their eyes, with glasses in them." -ANATOMIE OF ABU888, 1595.

MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.

[ocr errors]

" How does your fallow greyhound, sir ? I heard say he was out-run on Cotsale." - Act I. Sc. 1.

He means Cotswold, in Gloucestershire. In the beginning of James the First's reign, by permission of the king, one Dover, a public-spirited attorney of Barton-on-the-Heath, in Warwickshire, instituted on the hills of Cotswold an annual celebration of games, consisting of rural sports and exercises. These he constantly conducted in person, well mounted, and accoutred in a suit of his majesty's old clothes ; and they were frequented above forty years by the nobility and gentry for sixty miles round, till the grand rebellion abolished every liberal establishment.–T. WARTON.

" Mill-sixpences."-Act I. Sc. 1. It appears from a passage in Sir William D'Avenant's News from Plimouth, that these mill-sixpences were used by way of counters to cast up money :

"- a few mill’d sixpences, with which

My purser casts accompt.”—STEEVENS.

Edward shovel-boards.”—Act I. Sc. 1. “Edward shovel-boards" were the broad shillings of Edward VI. Taylor, the water-poet, in his Travel of Twelve-pence, makes him complain :

the unthrift every day With my face downwards do at shoave-board play; That had I had a beard, you may suppose,

They had worne it off, as they have done my nose."— FARMER. Go, sirrah, for all you are my man, go wait upon my cousin Shallow."-Act I. Sc. 1,

This passage shows that it was formerly the custom in England, as it is now in France, for persons to be attended at dinner by their own servants, wherever they dined.—MASON.

A master of fence."-Act I. Sc. 1. Fencing was taught as a regular science. Three degrees were usually taken in this art, a master's, a provost's, and a scholar's. For each of these a prize was played, as exercises are kept in universities for similar purposes. The weapons they used were the axe, the pipe, rapier and target, rapier and cloak, two-swords, the two-hand sword, the bastardsword, the dagger and staff, the sword and buckler, the rapier and dagger, &c. The places where they exercised were, commonly, theatres, halls, or other enclosures sufficient to contain a number of spectators; as Elyplace, in Holborn; the Belle Sauvage, on Ludgate-hill; Hampton-court, the Artillery-garden, &c.—STEEVENS.

Sackerson."-Act I. Sc. 2.
Sackerson or Sacarson was the name of a bear, exhibited in our
author's time, at Paris Garden. See an old book of Epigrams, by Sir
John Davies :

“Publius, a student of the common law,
To Paris Garden doth himself withdraw;
Leaving old Ployden, Dyer, and Broke, alone,
To see old Harry Hunkes, and Sacarson.”—MALONE.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

She discourses, she carves, she gives the leer of invitation."

Act I, Sc. 3. Anciently, the young of both sexes were instructed in carving, as a necessary accomplishment. It seems to have been considered a mark of kindness when a lady carved to a gentleman. So in Vittoria Corombona : “ Your husband is wondrous discontented. I did nothing to displease him; I carved to him at supper-time.”—STEEVENS and BosWELL.

for gourd and fullam holds, And high and low beguile the rich and poor."-Act I, Sc. 3. Gourds were, probably, dice in which a secret cavity had been made; Fullams (so called because chiefly made at Fulham) those which had been loaded with a small bit of lead. High men and low men, which are also cant terms, explain themselves. High numbers on the dice, at hazard, are from five to twelve inclusive; low, from aces to four.

MALONE.

Flemish drunkard."-Act II. Sc. 1. It is not without cause that this reproachful phrase is used. Sir John Smythe, in Certain Discourses, 4to., 1590, says, that the habit of drinking to excess was introduced into England from the Low Countries, “ by some of our such men of warre within these verie few years: whereof it is come to passe that now-a-dayes there are very few feastes where our said men of warre are present, but they do invite and procure all the companie, of what calling soever they be, to carowsing and quaffing: and because they will not be denied their challenges, they, with manie new conges, ceremonies, and reverences, drinke to the healthe and prosperitie of princes; to the healthe of counsellors, and unto the healthe of their greatest friends, both at home and abroad: in which exercise they never cease till they be deade drunke, or, as the Flemings say, dool dronken.” He adds, "and this aforesaid detestable vice bath, within these six or seven years, taken wonderful roote amongst our English nation, that in times past was wont to be of all other nations in Christendome one of the soberest."-REED.

My long sword.”—Act II. Sc. 1. Before the introduction of rapiers, the swords in use were of an enormous length, and sometimes raised with both hands. Shallow, with an old man's vanity, censures the innovation by which lighter weapons were introduced, tells what he could once have done with his long sicord, and ridicules the terms and rules of the rapier. Shakspeare commits a great anachronism in making Shallow talk of the rapier in Henry IV.'s reign, a hundred and seventy years before it was used in England. -JOHNSON. " When Mistress Bridget lost the handle of her fan.”—Act II. Sc. 2.

It should be remembered that fans, in our author's time, were more costly than they are at present, as well as of a different construction. They consisted of ostrich feathers (or others of equal length and flexibility), which were stuck into handles. The richer sort of these were composed of gold, silver, or ivory, of curious workmanship, and frequently ornamented with precious stones. Mention is made in the Sydney Papers, of a fan presented to Queen Elizabeth, for a new year's gill, the handle of which was studded with diamonds. It was not uncommon among the foppish young noblemen of that age, to carry fans of this splendid description; a singular piece of effeminacy for that early period.

STEEVENS, &c.

« AnteriorContinuar »